! = recommended
* = all-ages
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Black Eyes & Neckties have certainly made a name for themselves. The buzzing garage punk fivesome are fierce, and downright scary, which is how their Bellingham hometown fan base prefers it. Known by their fans as BENt, Ryan Cadaver, Bradley Horror, Brenda Grimm, Josh Homicide, and The Fist stage horrifically splendid spook shows complete with bloodstained clothes, blackened eyes, and unusual stunts, aimed at creating an appropriately shuddersome experience. What began as a spur of the moment performance for a Halloween party in 2002 snowballed into becoming a Northwest college indie scene mainstay. BENt started out as a band that was "all about the show," complete with fake blood sprays into the crowd and an eerie stage presence, and haven't strayed from that ethos.
The band's debut album, Stiletto, was released locally in 2004 on New Regard Media and in 2006 the band was approached by Clickpop. BENt's sophomore effort, and their Clickpop Records debut, Apparition!, has a much larger sound and more bombast, while still keeping with the pummeling horror-rock sound they're known for.
"New Womb" pummels in as the first track, not afraid to let us hear the raspy shouts of Bradley Horror right off the bat. This song hits hard, especially as a starter, but some of the lyrics (i.e. "Why did I see through these windows?, Why did I turn on these faucets?") don't strike as very imaginative. Organ driven "Ghosts In Our Clothes," however, is gloriously ghastly and creepy enough to soundtrack a neighborhood haunted house. Marching drums and visceral guitar riffs introduce "Broken Teeth," made perfect by Brenda Grimm's moaning organ. They're frenzied, bloody and calculated on "The Midnight Sun." This song is especially terrifying with it's intense, foreshadowing lyrics and slow graveyard tempo.
Apparition! is a full-on onslaught to the ears with careening organs, abrasive howls, and sucker-punched drums. With a bit of vocal adjustment, the band could be even more haunting than they already are, and less grating. BENt lashes out immaturely sometimes, sounding like angsty teenage hardcore, but rights itself again with some killer, hard-edged rock. They maniacally beat and batter you, and leave you for dead with these songs, proving their Murder City Devils comparisons true. Songs about werewolves, zombies, death, and all the unnerving stuff between the cracks populate Apparition!, leaving need for peripheral frills, and instead getting straight to the crunchy, black truth of their music.